Slight Decrease In Alaska Duck Breeding As 2018 Season Nears

Yukon-Delta National Wildlife Refuge ducks photo by Melissa Gabrielson/USFWS

Ducks Unlimited released its 2018 waterfowl forecast Friday morning, and Alaskan duck numbers have been on a bit of a downswing. Here’s a snippet of the report:

Farther north, in the Western Boreal Forest of northern Alberta, northeastern British Columbia, and the Northwest Territories, the abundance of breeding ducks was down 13 percent from last year’s estimate but remained 33 percent above the long-term average. In Alaska and the Yukon, breeding ducks decreased 15 percent and were 9 percent below the long-term average.

DU Canada biologist Jamie Kenyon reports that wetland conditions were generally favorable for breeding waterfowl across much of the Western Boreal Forest.  “After a dry spring, it was very wet in the northern prairie provinces and southern territories, with up to double the average summer precipitation. The Northwest Territories had record-breaking rainfall in June, resulting in full ponds and fast-flowing rivers. Ponds in the Yukon are full too, and many broods of a variety of species have been observed,” Kenyon says. …

According to the USFWS, spring weather and habitat conditions were mixed for Pacific Flyway goose populations. An early spring thaw in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta and southwest Alaska provided favorable conditions for breeding cackling geese, white-fronted geese, emperor geese, and Pacific brant, while a delayed spring thaw in northern Alaska and the western Canadian Arctic may have negatively impacted breeding success among lesser snow geese, Ross’s geese, and other species in those areas. 

Most duck seasons in Alaska either have just started or will soon be open. Check out the Alaska Department of Fish and Game waterfowl regulations guide for more specific information.